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High School Team Preview:
Pasadena High School--(Oct. 26, 1998)

"This is the best team we've had in years. I've had offers to coach at the JC level, but I want to finish with these guys, and maybe beyond with the next group." --Tim Tucker, head coach, Pasadena High School

Tim Tucker has been the coach at Pasadena for three years, and is going into his fourth season as head coach. Tim is yet another former player who has returned to his alma mater to coach (there's a sort of recurring theme here among many of the coaches we've interviewed, don't you agree).  He played at Pasadena during the 1978-79 era, when Pasadena was the undisputed CIF Champ in what is now Division I. He played with guys like Barry Brooks (USC), Tim Wills (Pacific), Keith Stevens (Texas), Keith Hood (Utah State, Dale Cook (ASU), coach Holton (UCLA). Tucker himself attended the University of Wyoming where he started for two years.  He ultimately decided to transfer to a smaller environment, and chose Westmont College, a small Christian college located in the hills of Montecito just a little bit east of "downtown" Santa Barbara.  While at Westmont, Tucker played for former Laker assistant and head coach Randy Pfund and Chet Kamerer (who was the head coach when Tucker attended). Graduating in 1983, Tucker began coaching as an assistant at LA Valley College, then moved over to Pasadena CC and the Cal State University at San Bernardino.   This last season, he was offered a spot at Loyola Marymount as an assistant, but as noted in the quote above, he decided to turn the offer down. At least for now. Tim is married and the father of three children.  And, as if that wasn't enough, he's also one of the nicest guys you'd want to meet.

And in this case, the old adage about "nice guys" is probably not appropriate when it comes to looking at the makeup and the chances of continued and improved success for the Pasadena team this season. Pasadena High School plays in Division I-A of the Southern Section CIF. Unless there has been a releaguing with them that we don't know about, they will play this year in the Pacific League against schools like Arcadia,  Crescenta Valley, Glendale High,   Glendale Hoover, and Pasadena Muir.  Last year they finished second in Pacific League to Muir, with a record of 19-10 and made it to the second  round of the Southern Section Division I-A playoffs, ultimately losing to J.W. North.  They have not been a particularly high profile team of late, but somebody must know something about them because they'll be one of 22 high caliber teams playing in the Oceanview Tournament of Champions from December 7-12, along with Fontana, Ayala, El Modena, Santa Barbara, Crenshaw, Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei, Corona Centennial, Long Beach Jordan, Edison, Redondo, Morningside, Serra, Fremont, A.B. Miller, St. John Bosco, Compton, Horizon and the Bishop's.  That's pretty good company to be keeping, and the TOC doesn't invite just anyone to their dance.

This is a team consisting of 10 seniors, 3 juniors, a single sophomore, and no freshmen.  They've got the "experience" factor nailed. Whether that experience will be enough with the talent they've got to make a lasting impression in Division I-A again this year, and get them past the second round of the Southern Section playoffs, is something only time will tell. But they're good, and in our view, so good, that we think they'll improve their record, and maybe catch a few of the "powers" they'll see in December sleeping.

Here's the roster:

Reggie Wallace-Harmon (5'-8" Jr. PG)
Kamal Jeffries (5'-9" Sr. PG)
Justin Davis (6'-7" Sr. C)
David Ball (6'-6" Sr. PG)
Vahan Parseghian (5'-11" Sr. SG)
Brian Smith (6'-3" Sr. PF)
Jason Guyton (6'-2" Sr. SG)
George DeJohnette (6'-0" Sr. SG)
Elliot Hucklebee (6'-3" Jr. SF)
Jasun Ridley (6'-3' SR. SG/PG)
Josh Duncan (6'-5" Jr. PF)
Kevin Richards (6'-6" Sr. PF)
Douglas Thomas (6'-7" So. C)
Clayton Coleman (6'-5" Sr. SF/SG)
John Franco (6'-3" Sr. PF)

This is a very deep and talented bench.   There are several mid to high D-I prospects on this team, and more than a few of them will be playing somewhere for the next four years.  Probably the most well known among the true prospects is Justin Davis (no, that's not a typo, he's the other Justin Davis). Justin is probably not as powerful a player as the other Justin, and certainly not as well known, but he's attracted the attention of a lot of good schools, including New Mexico, Florida State, and several others. UC Riverside reportedly offered him, but he's decided to wait to see what else develops, at least through the fall signing period. He's very talented, weighs about 213 lbs. now and is starting to put on some solid muscle.  He's also a 4.0 student, so he can just about write his ticket anywhere that will have him.  He's developed some very nice inside post moves and is a good passer from the high post, and is one of the better rebounders in the class.   Justin will be backed up at the post this year by Douglas Thomas, a young, powerful player who is already wearing size 18 shoes and is a wide-body type of guy, with big, soft hands and a decent touch under the basket.  Tucker describes him as having perhaps the best rebound timing of anyone on the team and is making tremendous two-handed dunks just about whenever he wants.

At the power forward spots, you'll find Kevin Richards, a first team all-league player, and another good rebounder, with a solid shot out to about 15'-18' with pretty good reliability.  Kevin is being looked at by some lower D-I schools and by some D-II's including coach Jerry Frietas at the College of Notre Dame,  and also by Cal State Bakersfield.  Others who will see some time at the power forward spot will be Brian Smith and Josh Duncan, last year's MVP of the JV team, who is described as a great shooter, another inside-outside kind of player, who actually started most of the games during summer league. At the wing position, more of a three man really, look for Clayton Coleman, a true high D-I prospect who is looking at a lot of Pac-10 schools, including Oregon, OSU, Washington and WSU, and ASU. Clayton was ranked fairly high by Recruiting SoCal (Dave Benezra and Mark Mayemura's scouting service), and for good reason. He's a truly exciting player to watch, very explosive and he's scored against some of the best.  For example he scored in excess of 30 points when matched up against Compton and Tito Maddox at the Best in the West summer version held in late June.  Clayton will probably wait until spring to sign from what we've heard, and he's also looking at schools like Idaho and Northwestern.  Clayton was also a member of the Asian National team this year, and is just a very versatile 3-4 man.

When Clayton isn't in at the small forward spot, look for Elliot Hucklebee, a good rebounder and penetrator who still needs to work on his mid-range shot but is otherwise a reliable finisher around the basket. And you might also see John Franco, a solid role player who at least for now will see limited action given the depth of this team.

Things get a bit more crowded at the guard spots, with Reggie, Kamal, David Ball, Vahan, Jason Guyton, George DeJohnette, and Jasun Ridley all at the shooting guard or point spots. Reggie will probably be spending a lot of time backing up at the point this year as a junior; he's quick, talented, an excellent defender with a great handle who can break down a defensive and is very hard to guard one-on-one, especially in the open court. Also at the point, we'd look for Ball to get some time and maybe start: He's a lefty, with excellent court vision, a solid player with good defensive ability and skills and probably one of the best three-point shooters on the team. He's getting some looks from mostly D-II schools, and will wait until the spring in the hope of attracting some D-I attention. We'd also look to see Kamal, a four year varsity player maybe getting some action early in the season, but on the depth chart on this team, we'd have to say he's probably the No. 3 option at the point. Jasun Ridley (no, that's not misspelled) is probably the best one-on-one player on the team, and will also play some at the wing and some at the point. We know that Mike Miller was really high on Jasun, and we are too. We would expect him to go the prep school route given what we are told about his qualifying situation, but then you never know, and he would be a very nice grab for some D-I school if he can qualify.

At the shooting guard spot, we'd look for DeJohnette to start. He's a two-time All-League player, the kind of kid who will go out and hit 8 threes in a game. Right now he holds the school record for three-pointers, and he'll improve upon that this year with his excellent range and accuracy. He's getting attention from schools like Washington State, Fullerton, UCSB, and he'll be scheduling visits soon from what we hear. Vahan Parseghian was the 6th man, and first off the bench last year, but this year the competition is a bit stiffer, and we'd expect to see him split time with DeJohnette and Jason Guyton. Vahan is an excellent shooter with good range, and nice defensive skills. Jason is probably more athletic, and will probably be the backup at the two spot if the decision were made today, but he'll have to work on his defensive intensity and speed.

All things considered, this is a very good, talented team with a deep bench, and the real task for Tucker this year will be to find the 7 or 8 top players from among this talented group who will be the main bulwark of the team, game in and game out.  He'll have a chance to do a little experimenting to find the right combinations at the Tournament of Champions, although given the competition, we hope he's got the rotation down by then.  They'll be at the TOC from December 7-12.  From there Pasadena will play in the La Canada tournament from December 14-19, and then finally they'll be at the winter version of the Best in the West from December 26-31 at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

During the season, Pasadena won't be appearing in either of the local MLK events, but they will play in the Long Beach Poly-Artesia Classic on January 30, where they'll matchup against Verbum Dei, a game we hear David Greenwood's Verbum players were eager to schedule to avenge two losses suffered by them at the hands of Pasadena this summer.Of course David knows nothing about that because he was over coaching in Europe and tending to his business matters, but it means a lot to the players.  And speaking of the Poly-Artesia Classic, other games you'll be able to see there will  be Anaheim v. Mater Dei, Dominguez v. Long Beach Poly, and Compton v. Artesia.

This Pasadena has all the potential to be a great team. In fact Tucker thinks it's the best he's seen in years.  And we think he only hesitated in calling it the best ever because of his memories of the teams he played on.  We'll see if this year's team has what it takes to be better than Tucker's old teams. Stay tuned.

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